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DENR Opens Antique Natural Park As New Destination

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DENR Opens Antique Natural Park As New Destination

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officially opened the Sibalom Natural Park in Sibalom, Antique to tourists on Friday.

The Sibalom Natural Park (SNP), which covers an area of 6,778.44 hectares in Mt. Porras in Barangay Imparayan, is now included in the tourism loop in the southern part of Antique, according to Community Environment and Natural Resources officer Louie Laud.

“Through the launching of the SNP as an ecotourism destination, we look forward to the improvement of the livelihood of the people as well as continuing conservation efforts ” he said in an interview.

Marking the launch was a familiarization tour organized by the Department of Tourism for tour operators.

Rona Horbino, one of the participants, said the SNP would be part of their package, together with the Malumpati Cold Spring in Pandan and Boracay island in adjacent Aklan province.

“The park is beautiful and, surprisingly, there are already the needed facilities for tourists,” she said.

Some interesting features inside the park include the native nato tree, century-old trees like red and white lauan, and the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia speciosa.

It is also a habitat for the Visayan warty oig, tarictic hornbill, Walden’s hornbill, and spotted deer.

A non-government organization, Biodiversity Finance Initiative (Biofin), was tapped by the United Nations Development Program.

In partnership with the DENR, Biofin conducted capacity-building training for the Bantay Gubat (Forest Guardian) volunteers who will serve as guides.

Around 70 Bantay Gubat volunteers formed the Barangay Imparayan Bantay Gubat Association and will charge PHP350 per tour of the SNP, which will take two hours at most.

Biofin project manager Anabelle Plantilla said the volunteers trained on tour guiding, hospitality, food and beverage preparation, marketing and branding, and the development of an ecotourism management plan, among others.

Ayman Agting said he decided to be a tour guide at the SNP, after working as a security guard and construction worker in Manila, because of the pay.

“The fee I could receive as a tour guide would already be enough for my daily subsistence,” he said. (PNA)